Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors


posted 7/12/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
Platforms: GBA
I was one of those poor guys who was unfortunate enough to draw the Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu assignment when it was offered. At the time I was enthralled with the likes of Unreal Tournament 2004 so I figured that I’d take a real stinker so that I can regain my grasp of reality. Too bad that I didn’t realize that the game would be that bad. From that day on I’ve been traumatized by GameBoy Advance fighters, vowing to never pick one up again. That is until Atari sent me the follow-up to Taiketsu. Besides, if anything can wash the taste of one Dragon Ball Z title out of my mouth, it’s another. And you know something? This game really isn’t all that bad either. In fact, I might even venture to say that it’s pretty damn good.

That’s because the designers decided to step back and assess what did and didn’t work in Taiketsu. Evidently, not much was right with Taiketsu because Supersonic Warriors seems to be rebuilt from the ground up. There’s a new premise, new fighting system, better visuals and an entirely new way to play the game here. Atari was trying to rid all traces that Taiketsu had ever existed and they’ve done a pretty good job of doing so. There’s a new tag-team mode which almost conforms to the Marvel Vs. Capcom style of fighting. You can switch players in and out on the fly although you won’t be able to tag in and out in the midst of a combo.

You won’t find much depth here but it plays in perfectly with the tune of the GameBoy Advance. Think about it, do you really want to be pulling off massive 15-hit combos with the tiny GBA d-pad? It’s this reason why the developers opted to go for a very simplistic two attack system that’s supplemented by a projectile attack. Weak attacks set up the combo while you can either segue into a stronger attack or a projectile attack. There are also varying degrees of projectile attacks that encompass the small, large and “screaming like a little bitch” categories. What’s most entertaining about the largest projectile attacks is that they’re accompanied by that super close-up of the character as he screams like he’s been constipated for months.

Fighting games are seriously lacking in storylines but Atari’s DBZ line of fighting games has gone to some great lengths to remedy the situation. The Budokai games have an unanticipated amount of storyline depth and Supersonic Warriors tries to continue the trend. Depending on who you pick in the game, you’ll carry out a storyline that’s pertinent to the character. For a game of this genre the storylines have an unprecedented amount of depth. We’ve sure come a long way since the days when three frames of text at the end of Street Fighter II would suffice.

With all of the GameBoy Advance’s hardware limitations it’s a wonder that the designers were able to create a game that felt in tune with the television series. All of the sprites are large, colorful and are immediately recognizable upon first glance. Special moves feature some nice special effects to portray that energy ball that’s all the craze in the cartoons. To help add some scale to the battles the camera zooms out whenever the two characters move far apart. Due to the GBA’s relatively weak hardware, battlefields feature firm ground along the bottom while the background scrolls infinitely with the action.

Atari set out to make amends for the debacle that was Taiketsu, and I feel that it came through quite nicely. There are some rough edges in the game, but if you can forgive the fighting system for its lack of depth, there will be plenty for you to like about this game. Make it your top choice if you’re a fighting fanatic on the go.

Bouncing back from a horrible debacle like Taiketsu is no easy task, but the guys at Atari have done an admirable job of removing that rank stench from store shelves. Supersonic Warriors isn’t a perfect game but it’s definitely good enough to keep you interested.

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